Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 when Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith realized that the sharing of their experiences with alcohol with one another not only helped the listener, but the speaker as well.
Putting into words the misery they had not only endured, but also inflicted on those around them, kept the reality of their malady alive, as well as the desire to live free from the bondage and despair it caused.
They had found hope and saw that it was not only easier to maintain when it was shared, but that the sharing was crucial to the maintenance. A phrase commonly heard among members of AA is “you only keep it when you give it away.”
To this end, twelve-step meetings are very important for people in recovery. They are opportunities to hear and speak the truth of each individual’s experience, strength and hope.
The give people the opportunity to learn from one another and to be grateful for what they have so freely received.
It is usually at a meeting that someone chooses a sponsor, a guide to help him personally through the twelve steps and to mentor him in sober living. Very often the connection is made because someone hears something in another’s story that resonates with his own experience.
Many a member has said, “for the first time, I heard someone speak who I knew would understand what I am going through.”
One of the most beautiful promises made in the book “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” is found at the end of step eleven, which reads “perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world.”
Hundreds of meetings take place daily in the New York area. Specific times and places of AA meetings in Queens and Brooklyn can be found at www.aaorg.
No one has to live without hope. Sometimes, it just takes the loving hand of someone who cares to reach out and help them know help is available.
Monsignor Joseph Calise is the pastor of St. Stanislaus-Transfiguration Church in Maspeth and works with men and women in addiction recovery programs in Williamsburg.